Suginami to spend up to 1 billion Yen restoring historic home

Suginami Ward in Tokyo is budgeting up to 1 billion Yen for the restoration of the 91-year old Tekigaiso Villa. The traditional Japanese home was once the private residence of former Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoe. The property, which includes 6,000 sqm of land and gardens, was acquired by Suginami in February 2014 for 3.1 billion Yen (approx. 30 million USD at the time).

The house was designed by leading architect Ito Chuta and built in 1927 as the holiday home of Tatsukichi Irisawa (1865-1938), a doctor and court physician to Emperor Taisho. Prince Konoe (1891-1945) purchased the home 10 years later. The home is of significant historical value, having been used by Konoe to host a number of meetings in an effort to avoid war with the US, including meeting with Hideki Tojo in the home in 1940. In 1945, Konoe committed suicide in the home’s library after having been suspected of war crimes.

In 1960, the parlor that hosted the Ogikubo Talk, a meeting held in 1940 between Konoe, Tojo, Zengo Yoshida (an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy) and Yosuke Matsuoka (Minister of Foreign Affairs) as well as the home’s reception room used for press conferences were relocated to the Tenrikyo School in Toshima ward, located 13 kilometers away. The two rooms, with a total floor area of 200 sqm, were used as a school dormitory. Suginami ward has reached an agreement with Tenrikyo to relocate the buildings back to their original location, with relocation costs expected to be approximately 30 million Yen (276,000 USD).

Until the early 2010s, the house was occupied by Konoe’s second son Michitaka, who passed away in February 2012. His widow was considering selling the property to a developer to be demolished and redeveloped into apartments. Local groups found out about the redevelopment plans and fought to preserve the house and gardens, fearing that an apartment building would ruin the character of the neighbourhood. Suginami approached the heir and acquired the property.

The house will be restored over the next three years with restoration costs estimated between 500 million ~ 1 billion Yen (4.6 ~ 9.2 million USD). Funds will be raised with national and city support, along with donations from Japan’s ‘hometown tax’ program.

The size of the existing house in Suginami is approximately 400 sqm. The house is currently closed to the public but the southern side of the grounds has been converted into a park. In 2016 the home received a national designation as a historical landmark.

Original blueprints of the house. The right-hand half of the house was relocated to Toshima ward in 1960. Image via the Suginami Local History Museum.

Location

2-43 Ogikubo, Suginami-ku, Tokyo

Sources:
The Mainichi Shimbun, May 31, 2018.
The Tokyo Shimbun, May 23, 2018.

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